Dear Friends and Colleagues of Archaeology,
During the Spring of 2023, Boston University’s Archaeology Program will be hosting a series of lectures. The next lecture is An Archaeology of Settler Capitalism and will take place Wednesday, April 12th from 12:20 pm–1:10 pm*, STO 253, 675 Commonwealth Ave., Boston. Dr. Eric Johnson from Brown University will be sharing their work.
From at least 1750 until 1900, Euro-American settlers of New York and New Jersey appropriated the production of Indigenous North American shell beads, namely wampum. The cottage industry was initially driven primarily by Euro-American women, but by the mid-19th century, bead-making in New Jersey went through a process of partial industrialization, culminating in the Campbell Wampum Factory. As American imperialism shifted from the Old Northwest to the Plains, new bead styles emerged from the factory’s drilling machines and water-powered grinding wheels, including hair pipes, a style iconic of Native Plains identity. Analysis of museum collections, new excavations, and merchant ledger manuscripts reveal details of settler beadmaking from 1770 to 1900, including temporalities of production, waste, and racial and gendered labor dynamics in transition to factory production. Conclusions warrant greater archaeological attention to the relationship between capitalist industrialization, settler-colonial dispossession, and Indigenous resistance.
Dr. Johnson’s Bio
Eric Johnson is Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow in Native American and Indigenous Art and Architecture in the Department of History of Art and Architecture and the Native American and Indigenous Studies Initiative and the Cogut Institute for the Humanities. He earned his Ph.D. in anthropology from Harvard University in 2021. His research combines archaeological and historical methods to examine intersecting effects of colonialism and capitalism in North America, specifically northern New Jersey. His current book project, “An Archaeology of Settler Capitalism: Appropriating and Industrializing Wampum Manufacture in New Jersey (1770–1900),” exposes the entwined nature of capitalist and settler ideologies through the untold story of Euro-American settlers who produced Indigenous shell beads for export to the fur trade.
*Dr. Eric Johnson has offered to stay until around 2 pm to talk with interested members of the BU Archaeology community. Following the talk, you are welcome to stay and continue the conversation with him.